Conserving the mangroves, Selangor mulls a forest reserve plan
PETALING JAYA: The Selangor Forestry Department will be submitting a proposal soon to the state council to convert the mangrove forest in Pulau Ketam and the surrounding area into a forest reserve, said its director Nik Mohd Shah Nik Mustafa.
“It’s curently state land but we want it to become a forest reserve so that it can be preserved and rehabilitated,” he said.
He added that this was also in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s call for the preservation of mangrove swamps following the tsunami disaster in December.
On claims by villagers that there was illegal logging in the area, Nik Mohd Shah did not discount the possibility of small-time illegal loggers operating there.
“We have to get the proposal out first before deciding on whether to stop the issuance of licences.
“There will be tighter control once it becomes a forest reserve as loggers have to follow forest reserve rules and regulations, which includes buffer zones,” he said, adding that there were currently eight active logging licences for the Pulau Ketam area.
Total mangrove swamp area for all the islands is about 4,085ha – Pulau Ketam (2,900ha), Pulau Tengah (790ha), Pulau Klang (270ha), Pulau Che Mat Zin (40ha) and Pulau Rusa (85ha).
The eight active logging licences for Pulau Ketam and the surrounding area allow 1,093ha to be logged.
Nik Mohd Shah said they were working with university experts to map out a new forest management plan for the state, especially to better manage mangrove forests.
“They are expected to start working on the plan next month. We hope to complete it by the end of this year and implement it by next year once it is approved,” he added.
Malaysian Nature Society executive director Dr Loh Chi Leong said it was important to preserve the multi-functional mangrove forests, which was often misconstrued as being smelly and of “no use”.
He added that destroying mangrove forests would significantly reduce the population of marine life such as prawns and mud crabs and would affect the livelihood of mangrove fishermen.
“Mangroves also protect coastlines from erosion and serve as barriers for salt-water intrusion, which can affect agriculture.
“Research by experts showed that it will cost US$9,990 (RM37,962) per hectare per year to use technology to replace the naturally available mangroves.
“For example, if you cut the trees down, you have to spend money to construct a seawall to prevent salt water intrusion,” he said.
Residents:Forests on three islands being overlogged